I am so excited (and saddened!) to reach the final installment of Buzzkill's 7 Spins on 7 Sins series! We finish off with the sin of lust. Lust is an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially of the sexual kind. Like gluttony, lust allows a brief relief from the reality of life. It hollows out our soul for the exchange of quick and simple satisfaction. It erodes our spirit as we fall to the temptations of the flesh in an unhealthy way. Mark Goodson, a spectacular writer and poet, approaches the topic of lust with insight, intelligence and honesty. He delves into the sin with keen perspective borne of struggle. I want to thank Mark for this fantastic post to end our series. - PS
I am currently reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
It is a series of notes the philosophizing Roman Emperor wrote to himself. Notes he never intended to publish.
Aurelius was a stoic. A rare man of power that avoided the corrosion of power. Aurelius, despite all the conquered land he ruled, understood that a person’s greatest battle lies within, articulated by St. Augustine as: “Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet.” I like the analogy that the soul is a battleground. I go to war for my soul every day. And I lose plenty of battles.
Pride is my soul’s chief combatant: the Genghis Khan to my Roman Empire. And lust is it’s wildest, most impetuous warrior.
Aurelius summarized my battle with lust in Meditations:
“How all things quickly vanish, our bodies themselves lost in the physical world, the memories of them lost in time; the nature of all objects of the senses — especially those which allure us with pleasure, frighten us with pain, or enjoy the applause of vanity — how cheap they are, how contemptible, shoddy, perishable, and dead.” (Aurelius 18)
Lust is the cheapest, the shoddiest of the sins. It is a sucker-punch in the dark. It is the freak storm rolling in on your walk in the park. It is the impulse you know is wrong but you indulge in anyway. If lust can be conquered, I am a monkey’s uncle — or Jesus Christ, or Buddha.
I want to be a stoic; I want to conquer myself, but lust keeps ripping down the walls of my empire. And much like the barbarians who constantly tested Rome’s borders, lust is growing in strength all around us. Our culture is weak against it, from the tacit acceptance of pornography, to an uncensorable pop culture driven by the slogan sex sells.
The internet is a wilderness of temptation. A few clicks and you can take a voyeuristic ride down Dante’s 9 layers of hell like a slip-and-slide. I could lie to you; I could blame society for my lustful ways. I could pretend that if I lived back when Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore slept in separate beds my conscience would be clean.
I could lie to you some more and write that our sexual lewdness is a healthy and mandatory expression of human instinct. But I’ve grown tired of lies — especially the lies I tell myself. Those rationalizing fibs in a world of relativism where nothing I do is wrong because someone somewhere at some time has done worse.
I didn’t come all the way over to Buzzkill to spin this sin with lies.
Why don’t we all just face facts. Lust is unavoidable, but acting on lust is a personal choice. For those of us suffering from sex addiction, lust is a disease that requires treatment. Let’s look at another fact: on a macro-level, we are making poor choices. For proof, I need look no further than my blog.
I wrote a post on porn this summer. I have taken it down since. I was proud of it, but felt, as a teacher, removing it was right once the school year started. My brand — the Miracle of the Mundane — does not have a thing in common with pornography, but the search engine results would make you think otherwise.
Here are a few searches that have directed people — very disappointed people — to my page:
“mark goodson porn” (hmm…)
(I did a bit this summer celebrating the life unfiltered, but Google doesn’t know that)
Those searches summarize what is wrong about watching porn. Porn is that impulse we need to learn to say no to. Searching for “miracle porn”, someone succumbed to impulse, to lust. Why resist? We say yes to it, because it’s easy to keep private. We watch and it changes how we view sex, intimacy, and ourselves.
The facts presented by Fight the New Drug (www.fightthenewdrug.org/) are startling. The non-profit offers many layers of involvement. Even a simple #NoPornNovember post or mission could help influence someone you know.
The difficulty is that lust — in porn viewership — is the thing that everyone is doing but no one is talking about. A real boogeyman. The skeleton in our closet. Shoot, you can’t tell me iPhone unrolled its “Private Browsing” mode for any other reason.
It helps to talk about things. In my experience, nothing worth a damn is worth hiding. Sometimes a discussion is the best armament against those lustful legions, the barbarians at the gate of your spiritual empire.
Mark David Goodson writes about the miracle of the mundane on his blog:www.markgoodson.com. When he isn't writing, he wishes he were writing. He teaches high school English, coaches football, and raises two children with his wife in the suburbs of Washington D.C.